H.E. Petronila P. Garcia: Welcome Keynote at the 14th Filipina Leadership Global Summit Gala Awards Ceremony

Amb Garcia's speech 1.jpg

Philippine Ambassador to Canada, H.E. Petronila P. Garcia (Global FWN100™ '17) delivers the Welcome Keynote at the 14th Filipina Leadership Global Summit Gala Awards Ceremony held in Toronto, Canada on October 27, 2017.

Below is the full text of her Welcome Keynote.


Distinguished guests,

Colleagues in government,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Mga Kababayan,

I wish to congratulate the Filipina Women's Network for bringing us together tonight to honor the most influential Filipina women in the world.

Chinese leader Mao Zedong said it correctly that "women hold up half the sky!" I worry, however, that with the attendance of Filipina leaders and organizers tonight, nobody is left to run your companies, offices, business establishments, and homes. But let your menfolk wait. This is our night to honor and recognize those among us who have led the way in opening new doors, pushing new boundaries, and challenging dated beliefs to benefit all women.

Permit me momentarily to invite those among you who have not registered for the Philippine overseas elections in 2019 to do so at your nearest consulates or embassies. And for those looking forward to escaping the harsh winters of Canada, to immediately sign up for the Winter Escapade scheduled in February next year where I will be accompanying you to historic Manila, bucolic Bacolod, and the center of political power, Davao City. Please visit the website of the Philippine Embassy or the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto for further details.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We often hear people say that we live in trying times. We hear of fears over climate change, wars, and health epidemics which threaten humanity and the world. This is, therefore, the opportune moment for women in the world, particularly Filipinas, to step up and lead.

We also often hear the adage that behind a successful man is a woman. But we have seen prying eyes looking at past successes to determine whether it is the woman who was really responsible and not the man. There were indeed instances when the hard work of a woman had to be claimed by her husband in those times when the place of the woman is strictly in the home.

Those times, however, have long since gone. For every achievement that a woman reaches, she can now stand alone in the limelight and claim credit for these and receive the congratulations of those who benefit from them. And the husband would, of course, still be there to drive her home.

Seriously, we are living in a world connected by the internet and the web. Artificial intelligence is now seeping into many facets of our workplace and home. Moment is measured in the present. Time is appreciated in the now. What would seem like a serious advancement in thought and technology would become obsolete in a matter of weeks, days, or even seconds. We are pushing ourselves to achieve instant gratification, instant success. But we must remind ourselves that our successes do not happen in a vacuum. We, too, are influenced by those who are around us, those who have been there before us. It is always a welcome opportunity to momentarily escape from the pressures of the world to gather together and celebrate each other's success. To learn from each other. To inspire one another.

Ambassador Petronila Garcia (Global FWN100™ '17) delivers the Welcome Keynote at the 14th Filipina Leadership Global Summit Gala Awards Ceremony.

Ambassador Petronila Garcia (Global FWN100™ '17) delivers the Welcome Keynote at the 14th Filipina Leadership Global Summit Gala Awards Ceremony.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Tonight, we recognize the achievements of Filipinas around the world. Those who have been chosen are not, by any means, the only successful Filipinas, but they are representatives of those many others who could not be with us.

The definition of success is subjective. Some measure it in dollars and cents. Others would count the number of awards and certificates. Still others will look at the number of academic degrees earned and the number of successful businesses established. For some, their success is shown in having raised a caring and healthy family even if they are not blessed with material wealth. I am sure we are not here to debate the definition of success, nor to limit its scope. We are here to celebrate all manifestations of success.

Those fortunate to have been selected as awardees tonight should serve as inspirations to all of us. In their way to achieving recognition and influence, I am certain that each faced unique challenges which could have dissuaded those of weaker souls. Only by confronting and conquering those challenges were they able to rise to their chosen pillars of society and stand able to influence those who follow behind. Allow me, therefore, to share with you this important trait of perseverance and persistence.

Each journey we take starts with the first step. Whether we reach our destination or not depends on whether we commit to take those additional steps necessary to allow us to reach our goal. Each step is a decision only we can take. Each step is only ours to make. Some of us gets distracted and choose to stop. Others lack motivation to continue. Our success in reaching the end of our journey depends primarily on ourselves. We cannot blame others for our failure. We make the decisions. Our being women is not even a consideration. We need to wake up those among us who believe that women are created to be inferior to men. These are modern times. When we persevere, when we persist, success would certainly be within reach.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As the first Filipina woman ambassador to Canada and the first Filipina woman ambassador in the Middle East, I have countless stories to share about the challenges I have faced. But tonight is not the time to tell you those stories. Tonight is the time to celebrate the successes of our awardees.

Let us draw inspiration from them and share their experiences to the next generation of Filipina women leaders. We have long broken the glass ceiling in the Philippines when we chose Corazon Aquino as our first lady president. Let us help women in other places break the glass ceilings which have prevented them from reaching the pinnacle of economic and political power in their respective countries.

We are Filipinas. We are leaders. And we shall lead others.

Maraming salamat po at mabuhay ang mga Filipinas!